Altneuland Book II
By Theodore Herzl
The Kingscourt yacht once again appeared in the Red Sea, but this time headed in the opposite direction.
Kingscourt's hair and beard had become snow-white. Friedrich, also as he stood before his cabin mirror, could see the first silver threads on his own temples.
The old man called to him from the foredeck. "Hallo, Fritze! Come up here!"
"What do you want, Kingscourt?" he asked, coming out of his cabin.
"Devil take me if I understand this! I've seen very few passenger ships since we've been in the Red Sea. Freight ships, yes, many. But don't you remember how much traffic there was in these waters twenty years ago, 1902? That was traffic. East Indiamen! Ships bound for China! These wretched hulks we see now are bound only for the African ports and for Madagascar. I've questioned that donkey of a pilot about every ship we've passed. There are no more East Indiamen, Japanese, or Chinese ships here. As I said before, there's nothing but freighters. Perhaps England lost all her Indian possessions while we've been gone. Devil take me! To whom?"
"Why don't you ask the pilot, if you want to know?"
"I'll ask nothing! I'll wait till we get to Europe. I'm not curious. Perhaps you are, Frizchen, eh?"
"No, Kingscourt. It's all one to me. In those twenty years on our beloved island, I lost all interest in the doings of the outside world. I have not a friend or relative left alive. What could I inquire about?"
Kingscourt leaned back in his comfortable easy chair, and puffed at a large Havana. "Well, our island did not disagree with you, Fritz. What a green, hollow-chested Jewboy you were when I took you away. Now you are like an oak. You might still be dangerous to the women."
"You are quite mad, Kingscourt," laughed Friedrich. "I think too much of you to infer that you're dragging me to Europe to marry me off."
Kingscourt was convulsed with laughter. "Carrion! Marry you off! You don't think me that kind of an ass, I hope! What should I do with you then?"
"Well, it might be a delicate way of getting rid of me. Haven't you had enough of my society?"
"Now the carrion's fishing for compliments," shouted the old man, who expressed his good humor best through epithets. "You know very well, Fritzchen, that I can no longer live without you. Indeed, I arranged this whole trip for your sake. So that you would be patient with me a few years longer."
"I say, Kingscourt! You know I can't be vulgar-at least, not so vulgar as you can. But, mildly speaking, that is ..."
"Something of the sort...When was I ever impatient? I was happy on our island, completely happy. The twenty years passed over me like a dream. Wasn't it only yesterday you delivered your farewell address to Time somewhere about here? I should never again have left our blessed island, not I. And now you try to make me think you're going to Europe to please me. Old man, you ought to be ashamed to offer such rotten pretexts! You're curious about things over there. It's you that want to go-not I. The best proof that I care no longer for the inhabited world is that during all those years I never once opened a newspaper."
"Nothing remarkable about that. My first rule of health was: No newspapers!"
"Indeed! A few years ago there was a shipment from Raratonga. All the things in the packing case were wrapped in French and English newspapers. For a moment I was tempted to read them. If they were months-or even years-old, they would still contain news for me. That was in 1917, and I had heard nothing from the world for fifteen years. But I rolled the papers into a bundle and burned them unread. And now you say that I yearn to go back to Europe!"
The old man smirked gleefully. "Now that you've exposed my lies, I'll confess. Yes, I should like to know what's become of the vile world-to see whether the human race is still as stupid and base as it was."
"My dear Kingscourt, I wager we shall be happy to return to our quiet island."
"Your wager finds no takers. I hold the same opinion."
The yacht skimmed through the Suez Canal. At Port Said, they disembarked. There was a lively freight traffic in the harbor, but the shabby bazaars no longer swarmed with the vivid, multicolored, polyglot pageant that had once been typical of the town. This had been the crossways for all who traveled from East to West, and from West to East. The most fashionable globe-trotters had been accustomed to pass through Port Said; but now, except for the natives, only a few half-drunken sailors lounged before the dirty cafes.
The two travelers stepped. into a shop to buy some cigars. When they asked for a better brand than was offered, the Greek shopkeeper replied fretfully, "We don't carry that kind. We no longer have customers for it. No one comes here who wants good cigars-there are only sailors who ask for chewing tobacco and cheap cigarettes."
"How is that possible?" asked Kingscourt. "Where are all the tourists on their way to India and Australia and China?"
"Oh, there have been none here for many years. They now travel by the other route." "Another route?" cried Friedrich. "What other route? Not the Cape of Good Hope?"
The dealer was annoyed. "You choose to laugh at me, sir. Every child knows that people no longer travel to Asia via the Suez Canal!"
Kingscourt and Friedrich looked at each other in amazement. "Of course, every child knows it," shouted Kingscourt, "but you must not think us ignorant if we've not heard of this damned new canal!"
"Just get out, will you!" The Greek pounded furiously on his counter. "First you tease me about expensive cigars, and then you make these stupid jokes. Get out!"
Kingscourt wanted to reach across the counter to whack the Greek over the head. But Friedrich drew the old hotspur away. "Kingscourt, big things that we don't know about have happened while we've been away."
"I believe so myself, Devil take me! Well, we must find out about it at once!"
Returning to the harbor, they learned from the captain of a German trading vessel that traffic between Europe and Asia had taken a new route-via Palestine.
"What?" asked Friedrich. "Are there harbors and railways in Palestine?"
"Are there harbors and railways in Palestine?" The captain laughed heartily. "Where do you come from, sir? Have you never seen a newspaper or a time table?"
"I shouldn't say never, but several years have passed...We know Palestine as a forsaken country."
"A forsaken country... good! If you choose to call it that, I don't mind. Only I must say you're spoiled."
"Listen to me, captain," cried Kingscourt. "We'd like to offer you some good wine. ...We're a pair of damned ignorant wretches. We've thought of nothing but our own pleasure for twenty years. Now, then, what's happened to that old Palestine?"
"You could get to Palestine in less time than it would take to tell you about it. Why not make a slight detour if you've a couple of days to spare? If you wish to leave your yacht, you'll find fast boats to all the European and American ports at Haifa and Jaffa."
"No, we don't leave our yacht. But we could make the detour, Fritze. What do you say? Do you want to take another look at the land of your blessed ancestors?"
"Palestine attracts me as little as Europe. It's all one to me."
They headed for Haifa. The coast of Palestine rose on the horizon on a spring morning following one of the mild, soft nights common in the eastern Mediterranean. They stood together on the bridge of the yacht, and stared steadily through their telescopes for ten whole minutes, looking always in the same direction.
"I could swear that that was the Bay of Acco over there," remarked Friedrich.
"I could also swear to the contrary," asserted Kingscourt. "I still have a picture of that Bay in my mind's eye. It was empty and deserted twenty years ago. Still, that's the Carmel on our rig-ht, and to our left is the town of Acco."
"How changed it all is!" cried Friedrich. "There's been a miracle here."
As they approached the harbor they made out the details with the help of their excellent lenses.
Great ships, such as were already known at the end of the nineteenth century, lay anchored in the roadstead between Acco and the foot of the Carmel. Behind this fleet they discerned the noble curve of the Bay. At its northern end, the gray fortress walls, heavy cupolas and slender minarets of Acco were outlined in their beautiful ancient Oriental architecture against the morning skies. Nothing had changed much in that skyline. To the south, however, below the ancient, much-tried city of Haifa on the curve of the shore, splendid things had grown up. Thousands of white villas gleamed out of luxuriant green gardens. All the way from Acco to Mount Carmel stretched what seemed to be one great park. The mountain itself, also, was crowned with beautiful structures. Since they were approaching from the south, the promontory at first obscured their full view of the city and the harbor. When, at last, the landscape was revealed to them in its entirety, Kingscourt's "Devils!" became legion.
A magnificent city had been built beside the sapphire blue Mediterranean. The magnificent stone dams showed the harbor for what it was: the safest and most convenient port in the eastern Mediterranean. Craft of every shape and size, flying the flags of all the nations, lay sheltered there.
Kingscourt and Friedrich were spellbound. Their twenty-year-old map showed no such port, and here it was as if conjured up by magic. Evidently the world had not stood still in their absence.
They left the yacht and entered a landing boat, in which they were rowed through the swarming ships to the quay. They exchanged impressions in abrupt, broken phrases.
The boat drew in at the stone steps of the dam. As they came up the steps, they noticed a young man who was about to go down to an electric launch that waited for him. He, in turn, catching sight of them, stopped short and stared at Friedrich with wide-open eyes. He seemed thunderstruck.
The old man noticed his behavior and growled, "What does this fellow want? Hasn't he ever seen two civilized people before?"
"That can hardly be the case," smiled Friedrich. "The people on this quay seem more civilized than we do. It's more likely that we look old-fashioned to him. Just look up at that cosmopolitan traffic in the streets. And all the well-dressed people! Seems to me our clothes are a bit out of date."
They instructed their boatman to wait for them at the landing place, and ascended more stone steps leading up to the high-lying street where they had seen the traffic from the water's edge. They thought no more of the stranger who had stared at them so fixedly. However, he followed them and tried to overhear what language they were speaking. Soon he had caught up with them; and the next instant he strode a step in front of them and faced about.
"Sir!" stormed Kingscourt. "What is it you want with us?"
The stranger made no reply, but turned to Friedrich. His pleasant, manly voice trembled with emotion. "Are you Dr. Friedrich Loewenberg?" he asked.
"Yes, that is my name." Friedrich spoke wonderingly.
The stranger impulsively fell upon Friedrich's neck and kissed him upon both cheeks. Then he released him and dried the tears from his face. He was a tall, vigorous man of thirty, whose sunburnt face was framed in a short black beard.
"And who are you, sir?" inquired Friedrich, when he had recovered from the impetuous greeting.
"I? Oh, you won't remember me. My name is David Littwak."
"The little fellow from the Cafe Birkenreis?"
"Yes, sir. He whom you rescued from starvation, with his parents and sister."
"Please don't mention it," parried Friedrich.
"On the contrary, it will be mentioned a great deal. Whatever I am and whatever I have, I owe to you. Now you are my guest. This gentleman as well, if he is a friend of yours."
"This is the best and only friend I have in the world. Mr. Kingscourt'"
Before they had fully realized what was happening, Kingscourt and Friedrich had let David lead them up from the dam to street level. Only then did they receive a full impression of the wonderful city and its traffic. Before them lay an immense square bordered by the high-arched arcades of stately buildings. In the middle of the square was a fenced-in garden of palm trees. Both sides of the streets running into the square were also bordered with palms, which seemed to be common in this region, the rows of trees served a double purpose. They gave shade by day, and at night shed light from electric lamps which hung from them like enormous glass fruits. This was the first detail which Kingscourt pointed out enthusiastically. Then he proceeded to ask many questions about the great edifices that surrounded the square. David replied that they housed colonial banks and the branch offices of European shipping companies. It was for that reason that the square was called "The Place of the Nations." The name was apt not only because the buildings were devoted to international commerce, but because the "Place of the Nations" was thronged with people from all parts of the world. Brilliant Oriental robes mingled with the sober costumes of the Occident, but the latter predominated. There were many Chinese, Persians and Arabs in the streets, but the city itself seemed thoroughly European. One might easily imagine himself in some Italian port. The brilliant blue of sky and sea was reminiscent of the Riviera, but the buildings were much cleaner and more modern. The traffic, though lively, was far less noisy. The quiet was due partly to the dignified behavior of the many Orientals, but also to the absence of draught animals from the streets. There was no hoof beat of horses, no crackling of whips, no rumbling of wheels. The pavements were as smooth as the footways. Automobiles speeded noiselessly by on rubber tires, with only occasional toots of warning. An overhead rumbling caused the travelers to glance upward.
"All the Devils!" shouted Kingscourt. "What's that?" He pointed to a large iron car running along the tops of the palms, whose passengers were looking down into the street. The wheels of the car were not underneath, but on its roof; it moved along a powerful iron rail.
"An electric overhead train," explained Littwak. "You must have seen them in Europe."
"We have not been in Europe for twenty years."
"Overhead trains are nothing new. There was one running between Barmen and Elberfeld in the 1890's. We installed them as soon as we rebuilt our cities, because they make street traffic safer and easier. Besides, they cost less to build than elevated or surface lines."
"I beg your pardon!" cried Kingscourt. "You speak of cities! Are there more cities like this in Palestine?"
"Don't you know that, gentlemen?"
"No, we don't," replied Friedrich. "We know neither that nor anything else. We know nothing at all. We have been dead for twenty years."
"And, indeed, dear Dr. Loewenberg, we thought you dead," said Littwak, pressing his hand.
"Did you inquire about me? And how do you happen to know my name? I don't remember telling it to you at the time."
"We were disconsolate when you withdrew from our thanks. Thinking you might be a regular patron of the Cafe Birkenreis, I waited for you many nights in the doorway. My father too."
"Is your father still alive?"
"Yes, thank heaven, and my mother too. And Miriam, whom you saw as a baby. ...Finally, it occurred to me to describe you to the waiter. He recognized my description, and told me your name. Imagine my grief, however, when the man added that you had been killed in a mountain accident. The newspapers reported your death. I can tell you, Dr. Loewenberg, we grieved much for you. We have always lighted the yahrzeit lamp on the date I found in the papers."
"Jahrzeit?" asked Kingscourt. "What's that?"
"A Jewish custom," explained Friedrich. "Relatives of deceased persons light candles or lamps on the death anniversaries."
"Oh, I have much to tell you, dear Dr. Loewenberg, very much indeed," said Littwak. "But we must not stand here. You will come with me. My house is your home now, gentlemen."
"And our yacht?"
Littwak turned to the liveried negro who had followed him, and instructed him briefly in a low tone. The servant disappeared, and David turned to his guests. "It's all arranged. The boat will go back to your yacht, and your bags will be brought up to Friedrichsheim."
"To Friedrichsheim, my home. You will guess in whose honor it was named. Come, gentlemen, we are driving up."
For all his cordiality, there was something decisive in the young man's tone. "Fritze, he takes over the command," murmured Kingscourt not unappreciatively.
Littwak signaled to an automobile, and asked his guests to be seated. He was about to follow them into the machine when someone called him. "Mr. Littwak! Mr. Littwak!"
He turned. "Ah, it's yours. What do you wish?"
"There was a notice in the morning papers that you were to speak in Acco today. Is that correct?" "I was on my way there, but I shall have to be excused. I have something more important on hand today. Oh, I must telephone at once."
"May I do it for you, Mr. Littwak?"
"If you will be so kind."
"You seem to have distinguished visitors," probed the curious one, pointing backward at the car with his thumb over his left shoulder.
David smiled, but did not reply. He called to the driver at the rear of the car: "Friedrichsheim!"
"That's a familiar face," said Friedrich, as the machine started. "I must have seen it somewhere, but without those gray mutton chop whiskers, and without the eye-glasses."
"Yes, he's from Vienna, too. I've often made him tell me about you. But I did not care to become involved with him just now. Today you belong to me alone. He also was a patron of the Cafe Birkenreis."
Friedrich's memory responded in a flash. "Schiffmann!" he cried laughingly. "So he's here tool" "He and many, many other Jews from all parts of the world," replied Littwak.
Kingscourt, who had been looking curiously in every direction, interposed a question. " Do you mean to say that the Return of the Jews to Palestine is taking place?"
"I certainly do mean to say so."
"Thunder and glory!" shouted the old man. They drove you out of Europe!"
"No," smiled Littwak. "You must not imagine a medieval expulsion. It did not take that form-not, at least, in the more progressive countries. On the whole, it was a bloodless operation. At the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth, life was made intolerable for us Jews."
"Aha! Spewed you out, did they?"
"The persecutions were social and economic. Jewish merchants were boycotted, Jewish workingmen starved out, Jewish professional men proscribed-not to mention the subtle moral suffering to which a sensitive Jew was exposed at the turn of the century. Jew-hatred employed its newest as well as its oldest devices. The blood myth was revived; and at the same time, the Jews were accused of poisoning the press, as in the Middle Ages they had been accused of poisoning the wells. As workingmen, the Jews were hated by their Christian fellows for undercutting the wage standards. As business men, they were dubbed profiteers. Whether Jews were rich or poor or middle-class, they were hated just the same. They were criticized for enriching themselves, and they were criticized for spending money. They were neither to produce nor to consume. They were forced out of government posts. The law courts were prejudiced against them. They were humiliated everywhere in civil life. It became clear that, in the circumstances, they must either become the deadly enemies of a society that was so unjust to them, or seek out a refuge for themselves. The latter course was taken, and here we are. We have saved ourselves."
"Old-New-Land!" murmured Friedrich.
"Indeed, it is just that," replied Littwak earnestly. He was evidently moved.. "We have set up a New Society on our precious old soil. Our system will be explained to you, gentlemen."
"The Devil! That's all frightfully interesting. There's a tremendous amount to be seen here. ...I didn't want to interrupt your brief against that old Europe, and so didn't ask you about some of the buildings we passed."
"I shall show you everything."
"Now listen to me, esteemed man and Jew, must anticipate with a confession. Otherwise, you may repent your attentions to me. I am not a Jew. Now that you know, will you throw me out, or just disgorge me gently? What?"
"Oh, I say, Kingscourti deprecated Friedrich.
"I guessed from one of your first questions," replied Littwak calmly, "that you were not a Jew. Let me tell you, then, that my associates and I make no distinctions between one man and another. We do not ask to what race or religion a man belongs. If he is a man, that is enough for us."
"Bombs and howitzers! And do all the inhabitants of this region think so?"
"I did not say that," Littwak admitted frankly. "There are other views among us as well." "Aha I thought so at once, esteemed lover of humanity."
"I shall not bore you now with our political controversies. They are the same here as everywhere else in the world. But I can tell you that the fundamental principles of humanitarianism are generally accepted among us. As far as religion goes, you will find Christian, Mohammedan, Buddhist, and Brahmin houses of worship near our own synagogues. To be sure, Buddhists and Brahmins are found only in the port cities. Here in Haifa, for example, in Tyre, Sidon and also in the cities along the railway to the Euphrates-say Damascus and Tadmor."
"Tadmor!" cried Friedrich. "Has Palmyra been restored?"
David nodded. "But only in Jerusalem will you enjoy the universal peace of God."
"My head! My head!" groaned Kingscourt. "How is a person to grasp all this at once?"
They had reached a cross-road where the heavy traffic caused a momentary halt. Their automobile had to wait. Now they realized the advantages of the overhead railway. The great cages went whizzing past on their thick, double' iron rails. They neither interfered with the pedestrian traffic, nor were impeded by it.
From the vantage point of their enforced halt, they looked up several streets, in which the architecture was fascinatingly varied. The dwelling houses for the most part were small and charming, intended for only one family like those in the Belgian cities. The public and commercial buildings, which could easily be recognized, seemed all the more imposing by contrast. Littwak pointed out several as they passed-the Marine Department, the Department of Commerce, the Employment Department, the Department of Education, the Department of Electricity. A large, handsome edifice, with a frescoed loggia in its facade, caught their attention.
"That is the Building Department," explained Littwak. "The headquarters of Steineck, our chief architect. He made the city plans."
"That man had a large task," remarked Friedrich.
"Yes, indeed, but a very grateful one," replied Littwak. "Like the rest of us, he had abundant material from which to create. Never in history were cities built so quickly or so well, because never before were so many technical facilities available. By the end of the nineteenth century humanity had already achieved a high degree of technical skill. We merely had to transplant existing inventions to this country. I shall tell you how it all happened another time."
They were now in a residential section of the city, upon Mount Carmel, where there were many elegant mansions surrounded by fragrant gardens. Several houses of Moorish design had close wooden lattices over some of their windows. David anticipated their question, saying that these were the homes of prominent Moslems. "There's my friend Reschid Bey," he added.
A handsome man of thirty-five was standing beside a wrought iron gate as they drove by. He wore dark European clothing and a red fez. His salute to them was the Oriental gesture which signifies lifting and kissing the dust. David called to him in Arabic, and Reschid replied in German-with a slight northern accent. "Wish you much joy of your guests!"
Kingscourt stared. "Who's the little Muslim?" he asked. "He studied in Berlin," replied David laughingly. "His father was among the first to understand the beneficent character of the Jewish immigration, and enriched himself, because he kept pace with our economic progress. Reschid himself is a member of our New Society."
"The New Society?" repeated Friedrich. "What's that?"
"Dearly beloved," added Kingscourt, turning to David. "You must instruct us like newborn calves in all that's worth knowing. We know neither the old nor the new society."
"Oh, but," replied Littwak, "you know the old order, or you did know it. I shall explain our New Society to you at our leisure. Now there is no more time. In a moment we shall arrive at the house which is henceforth to be your home."
The serpentine road opened wider and wider prospects. Now the city and harbor of Haifa lay before the entranced eyes of the travelers. On the near side the broad bay with its zone of gardens; beyond, Acco with its background of mountains. They were on the summit of the northern ridge of the Carmel. To the right and to the left, to the north and to the south, a magnificent expanse lay spread out before them. The sea glittered blue and gold into an infinite horizon. White-capped waves fluttered over it like gulls toward the light brown strand. David ordered the driver to stop the car so that they might enjoy the unique view. As they alighted, he turned to Freidrich. "See, Dr. Loewenberg, this is the land of our fathers."
Friedrich did not know why his eyes grew warm with tears at the young man's simple words. This was an altogether different mood from that of the night in Jerusalem twenty years before. He had looked then upon moonlit Death; now, Life sparkled joyously in the sun. He looked at David. So this was the Jewboy beggar! A free, healthy, cultured man who gazed steadfastly upon the world and seemed to stand firmly in his shoes. David had barely referred to his own circumstances in life; he could hardly be poor, though, if he lived in this district of villas and mansions. He seemed to be a prominent citizen, too. On the drive many people had greeted him in the streets. Even elderly men had been the first to bow. Here he stood on the heights of the Carmel, an expression of profound joy upon his features as he gazed out over land and sea. Only now did it seem to Friedrich that he could recognize in the upstanding man before him the remarkable boy of the Brigittenauer Laende in Vienna, who once upon a time had said that he would return to the Land of Israel.
Friedrichsheim was a large, pleasant mansion in the Moorish style, set in gardens. Before the entrance lay a stone lion. The cry of the little son of the peddler echoed back to Friedrich through the years. "What Judah once had, that he can have again! Our old God still lives!" And the dream had been fulfilled.
The gatekeeper rang a bell to announce David's arrival. Two footmen awaited them on the steps.
"Have Mrs. Littwak and Miss Miriam meet me downstairs in the drawing room, please," said David to one of the servants. The man hurried up the carpeted stairway of the great hall. The second servant opened the door of the drawing room for them. They entered a high-vaulted room containing magnificent works of art. Rose-colored silk covered the walls. The furniture was of the delicate English style. From the ceiling hung a shimmering electric chandelier of crystal and gold. Plate glass panes let in full daylight through a French door and four windows. The room overlooked a flower-covered parterre with a marble parapet, behind which one caught glimpses of the sapphire blue sea. At either side of the main doorway of the drawing room stood silver candelabra of a man's height. A large portrait of an elderly man and wife in simple, dark clothing hung in a narrow panel.
"My parents!" said David, seeing Friedrich glance at the portrait. "I should certainly not have recognized them," smiled Friedrich. "And who is this?" He pointed to a painting over the great chimney place which portrayed a slender, black-haired young woman of great beauty.
"My sister Miriam. You will judge for yourself in a moment whether it is a good likeness of her." Miriam entered with David's wife, a blooming young matron.
"Sarah! Miriam!" cried David, his voice breaking. "We have most welcome, most unexpected visitors. This day has brought me the greatest happiness of my life. You will never guess, never imagine whom we have the good fortune to entertain. Him we thought dead: our benefactor, our savior!'"
The young women looked bewildered. "But not Friedrich Loewenberg?" questioned the girl. "Even he, Miriam., even he! Here he stands before you!"
She hurried toward Friedrich with outstretched hands, greeting him joyously like an old friend.
He felt strangely moved at hearing his name pronounced in her charming voice. These delightful new people, the magnificent surroundings, threw a spell over him.
"And this gentleman is Mr. Kingscourt, Dr. Loewenberg's friend; therefore our own friend and guest." David told them briefly how he had spied the gentlemen at the quay, and at once recognized Friedrich. As a little boy he had deeply impressed the features of the friend in need upon his mind. Moreover, Friedrich had really changed but little. Of course he could not permit these gentlemen to go to a hotel. They must be his guests.
Sarah wished to have the visitors shown to their rooms immediately, but David undertook to escort them himself. "Let us go upstairs," he said. "I want to present to you a young man who bears the not uncommon name (in our home) of Friedrich."
The whole party went up to the first landing, David leading the way. He stopped before a door at the end of the corridor. "This is where the individual makes his habitat," he said with a happy smile as he opened the door.
In the center of a white room, a round-faced baby sat enthroned on a high chair. He had worked off his shoes with his feet, and was now ridding himself of his socks by patiently rubbing his toes against his fat little calves. An elderly nurse stood before him with a bowl of milk porridge. The child beat the mixture merrily with his Spoon. Playing with the food seemed to him much more important than eating it.
"This blockhead is my son Friedrich," cried David. For the first time something like pride rang in his voice.
Young Friedrich let his spoon drop. Kingscourt's white beard had fascinated him. He crowed loudly, and reached out his little arms to the old man. Kingscourt held out his index finger, and the little fellow gripped it.
The others started to leave the room, but Kingscourt stood as if rooted. Friedrich turned at the door and called, "Aren't you coming, Kingscourt?"
"This fellow won't let me go," replied the flattered Kingscourt. And he remained in the nursery for a whole hour.
From that moment dated the friendship between the old misanthrope and the youngest Littwak. What they talked about no one knew, because little Friedrich had not yet learned to speak, and Kingscourt, with the most violent oaths, denied any love whatever for the child. But it leaked out through the servants that Kingscourt often sidled into the nursery when he knew no one would be there, and played the silliest pranks. He would set the child astride on his shoulder, or lie flat on the floor so that he might crawl over him safely. When the baby cried, Kingscourt performed the most amazing dances to entertain him, and sang antiquated German songs in a hoarse voice that he tried to soften. On the very first day of his acquaintance with the little one, Kingscourt seemed rather distraught. at the luncheon table; but with so much to ask and to tell about, his sudden weakness for Fritzchen went unnoticed for the moment.
A delicious luncheon was served in the paneled dining room. Kingscourt was especially taken with the wines. They were all Palestinian, he was told, some of them from David's own vineyards. The first Jewish villages, established in the early 1880's, had, as a matter of fact, begun with viniculture. The best .varieties of grape had been introduced into Palestine, and flourished.
Miriam excused herself before the end of the meal. She had to go to her class. After she had left the room, David replied to a question which Friedrich asked about her. "Yes, Miriam is a teacher at the girls' high school. Her subjects are French and English."
"So the poor girl has to drudge at giving lessons," growled Kingscourt.
David laughingly took up the implied reproach. "She does not do it for a livelihood. I don't have to let my sister starve, thank Heaven. But she has duties and performs them, because she also has rights. In our New Society the women have equal rights with the men."
"All the Devils!"
"They have active and passive suffrage as a matter of course. They worked faithfully beside us during the reconstruction period. Their enthusiasm lent wings to the men's courage. It would have been the blackest ingratitude if we had relegated them to the servants' hall or to a harem."
"You told us on our way here," interrupted Friedrich, "that Reschid Bey is also a member of your Society. Your mention of harems reminds me of a question."
"Which I can guess. No one is obliged to join the New Society. And those who do join are not compelled to exercise their rights. They do as they please. In your own day you must have known men in Europe who were not interested in elections, who never took the trouble to vote, and who could not by any means have been persuaded to take office. So it is with our women and their rights. Don't imagine that our women are not devoted to their homes. My wife, for instance, never goes to meetings."
Sarah smiled. "But that's only because of Fritzchen."
Kingscourt, losing himself for a moment in a vision of the nursery, murmured absently, "I can understand that."
"Yes," continued David, "she nursed our little boy, and so forgot a bit about her inalienable rights. She used to belong to the radical opposition. That is how I met her, as an opponent. Now she opposes me only at home, as loyally as you can imagine, however."
"That's a damned good way of overcoming an opposition," boomed Kingscourt approvingly. "It simplifies politics tremendously."
David proceeded with his explanations. "I must make it clear to you, gentlemen, that our women are too sensible to let public affairs interfere with their personal well-being. It is a common human trait-not only a feminine one-not to concern ourselves with things we already possess. The way was paved for our women during the last century. In some countries women had been granted the suffrage, both active and passive, in representative local bodies and professional organizations. They showed themselves clever and able. They wasted no more time than the men, and talked no more foolishly. There was-really no point at all in letting all this valuable experience go to waste.... For the rest, politics here is neither a business nor a profession, for either men or women. We have kept ourselves unsullied by that plague. People who try to live by spouting their opinions instead of by work are soon recognized for what they are. They are despised, and get no chance to do mischief. Our courts have repeatedly ruled in slander suits that the term 'professional politician' is an insult. That fact speaks for itself."
"But how do you fill your public offices?" asked Friedrich. "Judging by the public buildings you pointed out to us, we must infer that there are officials here."
"Certainly. We have both salaried and honorary positions. But the salaried positions are allotted for skill and merit only. There is a healthy prejudice against partisans of any kind whatever. Paid officials are not allowed to take part in public discussion. But it is quite different with the honorary officials. For filling the honorary positions we have one simple principle: Those who try to push themselves are gently ignored; while, on the other hand we take great pains to discover real merit in the most obscure nooks. We thus make certain that our precious commonwealth will not become the prey of careerists. Our president, for example, is a venerable Russian oculist. He accepted office most unwillingly, because he was obliged to give up his practice."
"Was it so lucrative?" asked Kingscourt.
"Not at all. He worked mostly among the poor. He turned his practice over to his daughter, who is also a prominent physician. She now heads their great eye clinic. A fine woman, who has never married, and devotes her skill to the sick poor. She is a good example of how a sensible society uses the old maids, the single women who used to be sneered at or looked upon as a burden. Here they find their own salvation and that of others. Our whole department of public charities is conducted by ladies of that type.
"In philanthropy, too, we have created nothing new. We have merely systematized the old facilities, centralized them properly. Hospitals, infirmaries, orphan asylums, vacation camps, public kitchens-in short, all the types of benevolent institutions with which you were familiar have been merged here and placed under a unified administration. We are thus able to care for every sick and needy applicant. There are fewer demands on public charity here because conditions-I have the right to say so-are better on the whole. But there are poor among us, because we have not been able to change human nature. Here, too, people are brought low by their own vices or lack of responsibility or misfortune-deserved or undeserved. We give medical aid to the sick, and find work for the well...As I said before, we have discovered no new devices in philanthropy. Merely used and developed what already existed. You must have been familiar with the old institutions for aiding people through work and with employment exchanges. Here, everyone has the right to work and therefore to bread. This also implies the duty to work. Beggary is not tolerated. Healthy persons caught begging are sentenced to hard labor. The needy sick have only to apply to the public charities. No one is turned away: The various hospitals are connected with the charity headquarters by telephone. By taking thought in due season, we obviate any lack of beds. We should be ashamed to send a patient from one hospital to the other as used to be done in the old days. If one hospital is full, an ambulance in its courtyard will at once take an applicant to another where beds are available."
"But all that must be very expensive," remarked Friedrich.
"No. You must keep in mind the fact that systematic planning makes everything more economical. The old society was rich enough at the beginning of this century, but it suffered from ineffable confusion. It was like a crowded treasure-house where you could not find a spoon when you needed one. Those people were no worse and no more stupid than we. Or, if you like, we are neither better nor cleverer than they. Our success in social experiment is due to another cause. We established our Society without inherited drawbacks. We did indeed bind ourselves to the past, as we were bound to do-there was the old soil, the ancient people; but we rejuvenated the institutions. Nations with unbroken histories have to carry burdens assumed by their ancestors. Not we. The administration of any state you may have been familiar with will be an example of what I mean. Interest and amortization charges on very old debts were an enormous item. There were but two alternatives: either to go into dishonorable bankruptcy or to drag along with the heavy old burdens. The New Society was better off to begin with. I shall prove this to you in detail later on.
"For the moment, I wish merely to answer your question about the cost of our public charities. Even though they are adequate to all the demands for efficient service to the sick and the needy, our institutions are far cheaper than those of the old order. Buildings and equipment are paid for, now as then, out of public funds-in so far as synagogue offerings and bequests do not suffice. Personnel is provided for through a system of membership service. All members of the New Society, men and women alike, are obligated to give two years to the service of the community. The usual thing is to give the two years between eighteen and twenty-after completing their studies. (I want to add, by the way, that education is free to the children of our members from the kindergarten through the university.) In this two-year-service period we have an exhaustless reservoir of assistants for those institutions whose social usefulness is generally acknowledged. Such institutions are directed by paid officials."
"I understand," said Friedrich. "Your army consists of professional officers and volunteers."
"I accept the analogy," replied David, "but it is merely an analogy. There is no army in the New Society."
"Woe's me!" jeered Kingscourt.
David smiled. "What would you have, Mr. Kingscourt? Nothing on earth is perfect, not even our New Society. We have no state, like the Europeans of your time. We are merely a society of citizens seeking to enjoy life through work and culture. We content ourselves with making our young people physically fit. We develop their bodies as well as their minds. We find athletic and rifle clubs sufficient for this purpose, even as they were thought sufficient in Switzerland. We also have competitive games -cricket, football, rowing-like the English. We took tried and tested things, and tested them allover again. Jewish children used to be pale, weak, timid. Now look at them! The explanation of this miracle is the simplest in the world. We took our children out of damp cellars and hovels, and brought them into the sunlight. Plants cannot thrive without sun. No more can human beings. Plants can be saved by transplantation into congenial soil. Human beings as well. That is how it happened!"
"When I listen to you," remarked Friedrich meditatively -"and what we have already seen and expect to see confirms what you say-I might be ready to believe this thing real, and not a Utopia. And yet there's something missing.
"I begin to grasp the meaning and scope of your New Society," he continued. "That does not puzzle me. It is something else. I admit that what you have shown us ought not to seem strange, since we saw all these things in Europe-even though in sporadic and unharmonious forms. But though I see, hear and touch your social order, I still cannot understand how it came into being...How shall I put it? I understand the new order perfectly as far as I am acquainted with it. But I do not understand how it was born. The transition from the old order to the new is what escapes me. Had I been born into the world today, I should have accepted it just as I accepted the world I was actually born into. Granted that even then I should have thought much of it wonderful if I had suddenly looked at it with the eyes of a twenty years' absentee. Had we, for instance, been away from the world from 1880 to 1900, electric light, the telephone, transmission of electric power by wire would have been even more overwhelming. You show us nothing new in the technical sense, and yet I seem to be dreaming. The point of transition is lacking."
"I shall show you that as well," replied David. "I shall tell you my own story, in which you yourself played so large a role. But not now. You must be tired from the trip. First of all you must rest, and this evening, should you be so inclined, we shall go to the opera. Or to the theater to the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish theater."
"Schwerenot!" shouted Kingscourt. "Is all that here? Just as it was in America in my time. They used to have theatrical companies from everywhere. But that you should have it here..."
"Is certainly not surprising," completed David. "The distance from Europe to Palestine is much less than to America. And the journey is more convenient for people who are afraid of seasickness, since they can come all the way by rail. The network of railways begun in the nineteenth century in Asia Minor was completed long ago. Trains run now to Damascus, Jerusalem and Bagdad. Since the railroad bridge over the Bosphorus was finished, it is possible to travel directly, without change of cars, from Saint Petersburg or Odessa, from Berlin or Vienna, from Amsterdam, Calais, Paris, Madrid or Lisbon to Jerusalem. The great European express lines all connect with the Jerusalem line, just as the Palestinian railways in turn link up with Egypt and Northern Africa. The north-to south African railway (in which the German emperor was interested as long ago as the 1890's) and the Siberian railway to the Chinese border, complete the railway system of the Old World. We are at an excellent junction in that system."
"Devil take it, that's funny!"
"Railways are certainly not new to you, Mr. Kingscourt. There was nothing experimental about it. The Russian Chinese railway was already complete twenty years ago, the Bagdad line was under construction, and the Cape-to Cairo line projected. Palestine, lying at the exact geographical center of traffic between Europe, Asia, and Africa, could hardly have been left out any longer."
"My dear host, that is not what surprises me. But-may I say so-I am surprised that you Jews should have done it. You don't mind?"
"Only we Jews could have done it," replied David calmly. "We only....We only were in a position to create this New Society, this new center of civilization here. One thing dovetailed into another. It could have come only through us, through our destiny. Our moral sufferings were as much a necessary element as our commercial experience and our cosmopolitanism. But enough of this for today. Rest now, and we shall see about entertainment later. Tomorrow, in Tiberias, I shall tell you more.
They could not think now of rushing off to Europe immediately. However, Friedrich felt in duty bound to suggest to Kingscourt that they leave Palestine: The old man could hardly be expected to concern himself with the Jewish destiny. But Kingscourt swore he would stay as long as they would have him. All this was damned interesting; and if Dr. Friedrich Loewenberg no longer cared for his own nation, he, Kingscourt, wasn't that kind of a monster.
When the captain of the yacht presented himself for instructions, he was therefore told to send up a supply of clothing to Friedrichsheim, and to give the crew a holiday.
The guest rooms to which they' had been assisted adjoined one another. Kingscourt in his shirt-sleeves, stood in the connecting doorway, commenting with vigorous gestures on everything they had heard and seen. Friedrich reclined in an easy chair and gazed dreamily out through the open balcony door over the Mediterranean. No more delightful place of sojourn than this could he imagine. What splendid people his hosts were. And how easily they moved in all this high, free affluence. David-cheerful, energetic, self-confident, and yet modest. His wife a picture of happy young motherhood. This splendid girl Miriam, who was devoting herself to much more serious duties than the daughters of wealthy Jewish comes in his day would have dreamed of. For the first time in many years Ernestine Loeffler came into his mind. How madly he had loved her, and how easy she had made it for him to say good-by to the world. Would Miriam be capable of making a marriage like Ernestine's? Amusing thought. Queer it should have occurred to him. No, this girl was a different sort. These people were different from that odious Loeffier set. Who knows would it not have been better, more manly, more dignified, to have striven and struggled than to have run away?
"Kingscourt," he sighed out loud, "I am asking myself whether we did not sheer a false course when we made for our blessed isle yonder? How did we spend twenty beautiful years? Hunting and fishing, eating, drinking and sleeping, playing chess. "
"And with an old donkey, what?" growled Kingscourt, whose feelings were hurt.
"Drop the 'old donkey' stuff," laughed Friedrich. "I could not and would not live without you any more. But, for all that, it's a pity not to have been more useful. Here's the world come along a big stretch, without one's having had any part or achievement in it all."
"Oh, that! Here the man went to my school for twenty years, and still entertains such thoughts! Say right out that you want to join this New Society!"
"I don't say that because I still do not know it well enough. It does, however, seem less repulsive than the old order."
"Less repulsive! Less repulsive!" jeered the old man. "Go right ahead and join this pure society. I can go on alone under my own steam. You'll see how well I'll get along by myself."
"Oh, I say, Kingscourt, don't get excited. I shall remain here as long and no longer than you do yourself.'"
"Is that a promise?"
"My word of honor....and I shall not join David's society unless..."
Friedrich smiled at his own thought. "Unless you also join it."
It was long since Kingscourt had laughed so uproariously. "Ha! Ha! Ha! Fritze, what silly-billy notions you have. Oh, hot ha ha ha! Don't you see me a member of a Jewish society? Me, Adalbert von Koenighoff, a royal Prussian officer and Christian German nobleman! No, Fritze, that's too good, too good!"
"The junker speaks!"
"Now he's piqued. You're an exception in my eyes. One's none."
"And what is your objection to David Littwak?"
"None so far. Seems a strapping fine fellow."
They were interrupted by the host himself, who came to inquire their wishes for the evening. Did they prefer a play or a concert? He placed a newspaper with amusement notices before them.
Kingscourt pointed to the paper without looking at it. "Do so many lies still grow in the world?"
"Only as many as the readers want," retorted David. "A vast number, then," grinned Kingscourt.
"It depends. On the whole, the co-operative papers are truthful and decent."
"What kind of papers?"
"The co-operative ones. The press naturally had to be co-operative in our mutualistic economic order."
"Halt! Halt!" cried Kingscourt. "Not so fast, please! Under what kind of economic order do you live?"
"A mutualistic order. But please don't imagine a system of cast-iron rules, rigid principles, or anything stiff or hard or doctrinaire. It is only a simple, flexible modus operandi.
It too already existed in your day like everything else you see here. All kinds of industrial and commercial co-operative societies were then in existence; and you will find all kinds operating effectively here. The whole merit of our New Society is merely that it fostered the creation and development of the co-operatives by providing credits, and-what was even more important-by educating the masses to make use of them. Economic science had long ago recognized the significance of the co-operatives. But, in practical life, they succeeded-when they did succeed by accident and with much difficulty. Their members were usually too poor to hold out until the inevitable success could be achieved. And all the while they had to be fighting the covert or open opposition of the threatened interests. Provision merchants were not of course happy over the advent of the consumers' co-operatives. The cabinetmakers' co-operatives were no joy to the furniture manufacturers, and so on. The combined power of habit, friction, and the inhibitions imposed by old customs worked against the formation of the co-operatives. And yet their method provides the mean between individualism and collectivism. The individual is not deprived of the stimulus and pleasures of private property, while, at the same time, he is able, through union with his fellows, to resist capitalist domination. The plague, yes, the curse of the poor has been removed-they no longer earn less as producers and pay more as consumers than the rich. Here the bread of the poor is as cheap as the bread of the rich. There are no speculators in the necessaries of life. You know how in the co-operative method has, indeed, become one of the strongest motives in the new Palestinian colonization, due chiefly to the efforts of the organized labor movement. It is much more developed in agriculture, however, than in industry or commerce the old days they used to ruin hundreds of thousands of people through their practices. Nor did we allow the old type of small tradesman to come into existence, but established consumers' co-operatives at the very beginning of our enterprise. There you have another example of the advantages of our freedom from inherited burdens. We did not have to ruin anyone in order to ease the lot of our masses."
"But what about the newspapers?" asked Friedrich. "We were speaking of them. How can they be organized cooperatively? Do they belong to the editors-or how else is it done?"
"Very simply. The co-operative newspaper belongs to its subscribers. Their investment is limited to the amount of their subscription; and they are not liable beyond that. The larger the circulation of a paper, the greater, of course, its income from advertisements, announcements, etc. These profits belong to the readers-to the subscribers, rather. They are reimbursed for the cost of their subscription from the annual profits. When business is very good they receive one hundred per cent on their investment. Sometimes even more."
"Incredible! Marvelous!" shouted Kingscourt. "They actually pay you a bonus for reading the papers!"
"Did you never hear what incomes the great newspapers used to have? Though their salary lists and cable tolls were very heavy and always growing, they constantly reduced their subscription price. The largest papers were sold at less than the cost of production, and yet the profits of the publishers were always on the increase. The principle of reimbursement to the subscribers out of profits was already implied in that situation. You will find the same thing here, except that the lion's share of the owners is divided among the members of the co-operative newspaper enterprise.
"The editorial staff of the newspaper is also its business department, and you may be assured that these highly trained workers-whose labors alone make the printed page worth the reading-are better off now than formerly. It is they who earn the money for the subscribers, and even the man in the street realizes that. Our papers work Unceasingly to broaden the education of the public. They instruct, but they also entertain. And they serve the practical needs of business no less than the ideal ones of art and science. Our journalists nowadays work in a very different spirit, knowing that their services to the public are recognized and appreciated. And how very seriously they take their duties-since the responsibility for the policy of the paper rests now directly upon themselves."
"That sounds alluring," interjected Friedrich, "but it seems to me that the co-operative newspapers must be slavishly subject to the moods of the public. Being entirely dependent for their livelihood upon their readers, the editors must try to be complaisant, to flatter the public, to pander to its passions."
"And if that were the case," replied David, "would it be anything new? Didn't just those things happen in the old days? Were there not editors who kept their ears close to the ground, who suppressed this and exaggerated that in accordance with what they thought their readers wanted? And, at that, they could never be sure of hitting the mark. It is different here. At their annual meetings, the newspaper co-operatives not only render reports, but the organized reading public lays down the lines of the policy for the following year."
"Horrible'" cried Kingscourt. "Meetings with a hundred thousand subscribers!"
"What are you thinking of, Mr. Kingscourt? The subscribers elect one or two hundred representatives. The procedure is simple. Candidates announce their desire to stand for election in the newspapers themselves. Each subscription slip has a coupon attached which serves as a ballot. Five hundred or a thousand votes are cast for one delegate to the annual meeting. Candidates announce themselves in some such formula as this: 'I desire to advocate this or that policy at the general meeting. Those who favor it are asked to vote for me.' "
"Very good," replied Friedrich. "The public receives ample accounting, then. But I still do not see that this serves the public good on the whole. New ideas and new movements are rarely understood at first. You might as well ask children whether they wish to study as inquire of the public whether it desires to have its views broadened or improved your public opinion co-operative must necessarily debase the popular intelligence to the extreme. I mean to say that it is bound to turn the thoughts of the people either toward reaction or toward revolution. They will be deaf to the value of new things or blind to the value of old ones. The benefits of spiritual leadership, which can come only from gifted individuals, are lost to you."
"You did not allow me to finish, Dr. Loewenberg. I did not say that the co-operative newspaper is the only form known here. The co-operative society merely succeeded the old newspaper enterprises which, when you consider the amount of their invested capital, their expensive technical equipment, and the high cost of news-getting, were really very large industrial undertakings.
"But we also have newspapers founded and conducted by private individuals. I myself have such a newspaper, which I need in a struggle I am carrying on in the New Society. My chief Opponent, Rabbi Dr. Geyer, has a paper of his own also. I shall not keep my paper going after the campaign is over, but he will probably do otherwise, since he lives by these bickerings. There are several other privately owned newspapers, recognized as such, which serve various purposes. If a new tendency or a creative spirit appears among us, every opportunity exists for influencing public opinion. Men have to fight hard for their convictions here just as they used to do elsewhere. They must be steadfast, courageous, persevering in defending them. And that is not bad. Believe me, gentlemen, our mutualism has not made us the poorer in strong personalities; the richer, if anything. Here the individual is neither ground between the millstones of capitalism, nor decapitated by socialistic leveling. We recognize and respect the importance of the individual, just as we respect and protect the private progeny which is his economic foundation."
"Thank Heaven for that," commented Kingscourt. "I thought you had abolished the difference between mine and thine."
"If we had, nothing of what you have seen and are to see here would have come into being," returned David. "No, we were not so mad as all that. We did not abolish the spur to work and effort, discovery and invention. Talent must have its due reward; effort as well. We need wealth so that we may tempt the ambitious and nurture unusual talent.
"I myself am a member of the well-to-do class. I am a ship-owner. My business is the type which, now as formerly, can be conducted successfully either by individuals or by stock corporations. It is the great merit of mutualism that it does not exclude either the creation or the continuance of new economic forms.
"In my firm, for instance, you will see an interesting example of a mixed form. I am the owner. My employees have a co-operative society which, with my approval and encouragement, is becoming more and more independent of me. At first they had only a consumers' co-operative society, but later they expanded it to include a savings fund. You must remember that our workingmen, as members of the New Society, are automatically insured against accidents, illness, old age, and death. Their savings-capacity is therefore not split up by provision for these contingencies.
"I have voluntarily made over a share of the firm's profits to the savings fund of my employees. I did not do this out of magnanimity, but for selfish reasons. By this method of profit-sharing, I not only ensured their continued devotion to the firm, but created for myself a favorable opportunity for selling the enterprise when I should get ready to retire. I shall then turn the business into a stock company, having already granted a purchasing option upon it to my employees' savings fund at a moderate rate of interest. We have no differences over wages or anything else. It is, if you choose to call it so, a patriarchal relation, but one expressed in ultra-modern forms. If a demagogue were to try to incite my men, I should not need to have him thrown out-they'd simply laugh him out of court, so that he'd be glad to run away. They know what they are about, and there's an end to all vague socialistic notions." "You're still a young man," boomed Kingscourt cordially, "but you've come a damned long way."
"I began early. We were among the first immigrants. Personal merit had nothing to do with it, or very little. I was swept along with the general tide of prosperity. But I want to tell you about that only when we get to Tiberias."
"You will understand when we reach there. You evidently don't know what festival we are to celebrate tomorrow. ...But, now, gentlemen, please make your choice. Or perhaps you'd rather hear the program from an oral newspaper."
David lifted two receivers from the wall, and handed them to his guests.
Kingscount laughed. "Your Excellencey cannot impress me with .that thing. I know the trick. They had a spoken newspaper like that in Budapest twenty-five years ago."
"I did not intend to show you anything new. By the way, this oral newspaper is also co-operative." "But this one doesn't yield any profits, since it carries no advertisements."
"On the contrary. Its advertisements command the highest rates. The reader of a printed newspaper is not obliged to look at the advertising columns. But he is defenseless against advertisements that come through the receiver. Listen in. You may happen to hear one." They put the receivers to their ears. They were informed about a dock fire in Yokohama, a theatrical premiere in Paris, and the latest quotations on the New York cotton exchange. Then, very clearly enunciated, they heard:
"At Samuel Kohn's...Best grades of diamonds, genuine and artificial Lowest prices guaranteed. At Sa-muel Kohn's, Great Gallery, 47."
They laughed heartily.
"Sometimes," said David, "the wording is so clever that the listener does not suspect that he is listening to an advertisement. This paper yields enormous profits. The subscribers pay one shekel a month for the service, and get back far more than that in profits. There are no expenditures for paper, printing, or mailing. However, the municipality of Haifa and the New Society make this enterprise pay them tribute. And representatives of the New Society supervise the 'paper' at its headquarters so that no false or alarmist reports or obscenities may be dictated into the apparatus."
Friedrich was struck by a word which David had used.
"Tribute?" he asked. "How can the Haifa municipality or the New Society (you still have to explain the latter to us) simply make a private enterprise pay them tribute when it is profitable?"
"This is a very special instance. A telephonic newspaper must lay its cables somewhere. Now, under our streets, tunnels have been provided for the reception of all kinds of pipes and cables (present and future) for gas, water, sewage, and so on. This tunnel runs under the pavement, and a section of it branches off into every house. All the houses are fitted with subterranean connections for these cables. We do not have to tear up our pavements every time we wish to instalia new utility. You may, if you like, regard this as symbolic of our whole system. Large cities, as you knew them, used to grow up without aim or plan. When illuminating gas, water supply, sewer pipes or electricity were to be installed, the streets had to be eviscerated time after time. No one knew the exact condition of the various services until there was an explosion. When we, however, drew up our plans, we knew just what utilities a modern city required, and therefore laid tunnels under our streets to accommodate them. The original cost of these tunnels was quite high, but they have more than justified themselves. Compare the budget of the Haifa municipality with that of Paris or Vienna, and you will realize how much revenue we derive from our tunnels. Since this telephonic newspaper also runs its wires through the street tunnel, it must pay a rental in proportion to its income. This rental accrues to the public treasury."
"The first remarkable thing I've found here," declared Kingscourt, "is that you pave your streets with Samuel Kohn's best diamonds. You're a damned clever lot. I never should have thought of it."
"There's a sting to your compliments, Mr. Kingscourt," replied David in a friendly tone. "But perhaps you'll reverse your judgment when you've been with us for a while."
"Fine! You'll find me quite ready to admit that I'm an old ass. But I do require evidence! ...And now, in the Devil's name, take us to the theater."
"To whichever you choose, dear Littwak."
"Well, gentlemen, since you won't decide, I suggest we leave it to the ladies."
The ladies were already in evening dress.
"These gentlemen," said Sarah, "will probably not care to go to plays which they can see as well in London or Berlin or Paris, though, as it happens, there are excellent French and Italian companies in Haifa just now. I should think they would find the Jewish plays more interesting."
"Are there Jewish plays?" queried Friedrich in surprise.
"Haven't you already heard," teased Kingscourt, "that the theater is completely judaized?"
Sarah glanced at the paper. "At the national theater tonight there is a biblical drama called 'Moses.' "
"A noble theme," remarked David.
"But too serious. There's 'Shabbatai levi' at the opera. And at some of the popular theaters there are Yiddish farces. They are amusing, but not in very good taste. I should recommend the opera." Miriam supported her sister-in-law's suggestion, saying that "Sabbatai Levi'" was the best composition of recent years, rich though the period had been in musical creation. But they must hurry. The opera house was half an hour's ride distant.
"Won't it be too late to get tickets?" asked Kingscourt.
"The box office will probably be sold out by this time," replied David, "because most of the co-operators must have used their subscription tickets. But I have had a box ever since the opera house was built."
"Is the opera also a co-operative society?" cried Friedrich.
"Subscriptions, Fritze. They call it co-operative here. Something like the newspapers."
"Quite the same thing, Mr. Kingscourt," laughed David. "Don't let them bluff you. There's nothing new here. It only seems so." He began to draw on a pair of white gloves.
Gloves! White gloves! Neither Kingscourt nor Friedrich had any. In all the twenty years on their quiet Pacific is land, they had had no use for such fripperies. But now they were back in civilized society, and in the desperate predicament of accompanying ladies to the theater. One must behave like a civilized human being. Kingscourt asked whether they would pass a glove shop on their way to the opera? No, there were no such shops. The old gentleman became peevish.
"Are you teasing me? You're wearing some on your own thumbs. Did you make them yourself? Are you a member of the glovers' co-operative too?"
David cleared up the misunderstanding while the others laughed. There were no special shops for gloves because, like all other articles of clothing, they were sold only in large department stores.
Two autos waited for them before the entrance to the house. Sarah, Miriam and Friedrich entered the first, Kingscourt and David the second. It was a mild southern evening like the soft nights on the Riviera at this season. Below them lay Haifa like a sea of light. In the harbor and the roadstead as far as Acco the lights of the numerous ships were reflected like stars in the mirroring waters.
As they drove past Reschid's house they heard singing in a magnificent female voice.
"She's a friend of ours," said Miriam, "Reschid's wife. She is well bred and well educated. We often see her, but only in her own house. Reschid adheres strictly to the Moslem customs, and that makes it difficult for her to come to us."
"But," added Sarah, "you must not think that that makes Fatma unhappy. Theirs is a very happy marriage. They have charming children. But the wife never leaves her home. Surely, peaceful seclusion is also a form of happiness. I can understand that very well, though I am a full-fledged member of the New Society. If my husband wished it, I should live just as Fatma does and think no more about it."
"I can confirm that," said Miriam, caressing the speaker's hand.
"I understand," said Friedrich thoughtfully. "In your New Society every man may live and be happy in his own way."
"Every man and every woman," said Sarah.
The travelers found themselves once more in the brightly lighted streets. The autos stopped before a large building with all its windows lighted up.
Was this the opera? No, it was a large bazaar like those in Paris.
"The Bon Marche," cried Kingscourt.
David smiled. "Something of the sort. We have only such bazaars. No small shops at all."
"What" cried Kingscourt. "Have you put all the small tradesmen out of business? Have you killed the poor devils dead?"
"No, indeed. We did not have to kill them, because we simply did not let them be born."
Friedrich, who had been admiring the window displays with the ladies, now asked, "How's that? You prohibited petty trade. Is that your freedom?"
"Everyone is free here, and may do as he chooses," replied David. "We punish only those crimes and misdemeanors which were penalized in enlightened European states. Nothing is forbidden here that was not forbidden there. We do not consider petty trade a misdemeanor, but poor business. That was one of the problems our Society had to solve. It was very important to do so, especially at the beginning, because such large numbers of our people were petty tradesmen. My good father himself-you probably remember, Dr. Loewenberg-earned his poor crust as a peddler. And peddling is certainly the most wretched form of petty trade. He used to carry his basket from one cafe to the other."
"One moment, Mr. Littwak!" roared Kingscourt. "I say, you don't seem to be ashamed of it." "I? Far from it. My father suffered torments for my sake.
I should be the last person-" "I like that! Shake hands!'" Kingscourt caught the young
man's hand, and pumped it vigorously. On their way to the glove department, Friedrich probed further. "How did you get around petty trading," he asked, "if you did not forbid it by law?"
"Quite simply. Through this thing here-the large bazaar. Such large emporiums and mail order houses with branches everywhere were inevitable in an era of steam engines and railways. They did not happen by accident. No clever merchant conceived them in a flash of insight. It was a development forced by iron necessity.
"Mass production had made this type of distribution imperative. Naturally, the small tradesmen became discouraged and bewildered, and were forced out of business, like the stagecoach drivers when the steam engine appeared. But the drivers realized their plight sooner than the tradesmen with their short-sighted shrewdness. The tradesmen were the more helpless because their business consisted chiefly of their bit of capital, and that had usually vanished by the time they realized the impending peril. They, poor souls, were not to blame for their own ruin. The new epoch attacked them without so much as a causus belli.
"But-and this is one of the keys to our prosperity-the obsolete forms of commerce never got a foothold here. We started off with the new era. No man was stupid enough to set up a little shop beside a great bazaar. No man any longer went from house to house or from town to town with a pack on his back when he knew that the price lists, samples, and newspaper advertisements of the mail order houses had preceded him. Petty trade and peddling no longer promised the least profit. Therefore, when our people entered the new conditions, they did not try to adopt those means of earning a livelihood.
"In old Europe, where so many rights had been won at different periods, and had to be protected none the less, this was a trying problem. The lower strata of the commercial middle-class were seriously endangered by the department stores. Yet, if the large shops were to be closed by law, a legal question would arise: at what point did they become 'large?' Were they to be weakened through high taxes? That course would profit the public' treasury little, while the small tradesmen would not be much the gamer.
"Moreover, the public wanted and in fact needed these large bazaars where, without loss of time, one can purchase all sorts of things at the low prices made possible by mass distribution. (Manufacturers are of course able to allow lower prices to large firms than to small ones.) In brief, both production and consumption required the large bazaar. No one was ruined here because, as I have said commerce was then in its beginnings. We had a social-political motive: that is to say, we wanted to cure our small tradesmen of certain outworn, uneconomic, and injurious forms of trade."
The ladies were showing slight signs of impatience at David's detailed explanations. They would be late for the opera. But Kingscourt wished to ask still more questions as he held up his great red hands to the saleswoman who was trying to force them into the white gloves.
"Your story, excellency, does not quite hold water. Today I see that you have much commerce here. But it could not have been like that to begin with. These great structures could not have been set down on the bare ground, nor could there have been crowds of customers waiting to rush into them. Tell that to your little Fritzchen, not to an old hand like me."
"Nor, Mr. Kingscourt, did it happen that way. Things developed naturally. When the Jewish immigration to Palestine began on a large scale, there was a sudden and enormous demand for merchandise. We had not yet produced anything, and needed everything. This was known to the whole world, because the Jewish immigration took place in the full light of day. Large firms hastened to establish branches in the important Palestinian towns. It was not only Jewish firms which took advantage of the opportunity to sell their shopworn goods. German, French, English and American department stores went up in a twinkling. At first they were housed in iron barracks. Later, however, as the stream of immigrants grew, and people wanted more and better merchandise (because in the meantime they had settled down and begun to prosper), the barracks gradually gave way to stone structures.
"The New Society carefully refrained from hampering these large undertakings. On the contrary, we encouraged them because they offered us a double advantage. For one thing, they provided the common necessaries promptly and cheaply; and, for another, their presence restrained our small tradesmen from engaging in unproductive business. We did not want to be a nation of shopkeepers."
"Indeed?" asked Friedrich. "Are there no small traders at all here?"
"Oh, there are, indeed!" was the reply. "No one is subject to rules and regulations here. We live under no despotism, whether monarchistic or socialistic. Every one does as he sees fit. The cheapest and the most expensive goods -let us say, second-hand clothing and jewelry-are handled mainly by individual traders. These are by no means all Jews. Greeks, Levantines, Armenians, and Persians engage in this sort of business much more than the Jews-especially than the Jews affiliated with the New Society."
"How's that? Are there Jews who do not belong to the New Society?" "Yes, of course there are...But now we really must be going." David turned to the saleswoman. "How much for both pairs of gloves?"
"All the devils!" marveled Kingscourt. "What's that?"
David smiled. "Our currency. We have renewed the ancient Hebrew coinage. A shekel is equal to a French franc. Since you are not provided with Palestinian currency, allow me to pay for you."
He threw a gold coin on the counter, and received some silver in exchange. As they turned to go, Kingscourt pinched David's arm and growled at him banteringly. "So you didn't abolish money in your New Society. Should have been surprised if you had."
David, who by this time understood the old man's manner, retorted in the same vein. "No, Mr. Kingscourt, we could not bear to part with money. For one thing, we are damned greedy Jews. And for another, money is an excellent expedient. If there hadn't been any, it would have had to be invented, you know."
"Boy, you talk after my own heart. I have always said so. Money is a good thing-a fine thing. It's only that it has been spoiled by people."
When they entered their box at the opera, the overture was almost finished. Many people were staring up at them from the auditorium, and the ladies hastened to seat themselves. Friedrich and Kingscourt were surprised at the magnificence of the building. Yes, said David, it had been under construction for five years, and was subsidized by the New Society. An ordinary theater was usually completed within a year once the co-operative had been established.
In the next box sat two bejeweled and overdressed women, one elderly and the other young, on either side of an elderly man. They saluted the Littwak party with a striking show of respect. To Friedrich it seemed that the Littwaks rejected rather than acknowledged the greeting. The older woman and the man he seemed to have met somewhere or other in the dim past.
"Who are those people?" he whispered to David.
The latter shrugged. "A Mr. Laschner, his wife and daughter."
Laschner! The rich Viennese stock broker. Suddenly Ernestine's betrothal party flashed before his mind's eye. The recollection was both amusing and painful.
"I must say, I should never have expected to see them here."
"They did not come until our house was finished," said David. "Palestine now has the same comforts as in the European large cities. But a Laschner meets with the same contempt here as elsewhere. ...We did not indeed abolish money, my dear Mr. Kingscourt; but it is not everything here. The members of our New Society have become so free in the economic sense that the old, disgusting kowtowing to wealth has naturally disappeared. Mr. Laschner may have money, he may spend as much of it as he pleases; but no one takes off his hat to him for that reason. Of course, if he were a decent sort, we should gladly accept him. We expect everyone to show a sense of solidarity. This man, however, has not even troubled to join the New Society. He did not care to assume the duties of our commonwealth. He therefore lives here as a stranger. He may move about freely like any other stranger, but no one respects him. You will understand that."
"Do I understand it!" murmured Kingscourt, looking contemptuously toward the upstarts' box....
The curtain went up, showing a public square in Smyrna; the rising prophet surrounded by his first disciples. Kingscourt asked Miriam to explain the theme of the opera.
"This Sabbatai Zevi," whispered the girl, "was a false messiah who appeared in Turkey in the seventeenth century. He succeeded in creating a large movement among the Oriental Jews, but in the end he himself became a renegade from Judaism and ended ignominiously."
Kingscourt nodded his understanding of the story. "I see. A wretched fellow. Of course that would make a good theme for an opera."
A group of opposition rabbis stood near the synagogue in the public square, singing angry choruses after the pseudo-messiah and his friends had left the stage. A young girl devoted to the prophet rebuked the belligerent mob in a long aria. The anger of the people then turned against this rash defender; and, had not Sabbatai opportunely returned, it would have gone ill with her. Even his enemies were overawed by the personality of the leader of the masses. They withdrew before him timidly. The maiden threw herself at his feet. He lifted her gently and sang a duet with her after the operatic custom. The act was brought to an effective close by the proclamation of a rabbinical ban against Sabbatai, who declared that he and his friends would leave Smyrna the girl implored him to take her with him. She would follow and serve him wherever he went...The curtain fell...
During the entr'ante they discussed the florid hero of the opera. "That swindler will go far," commented Kingscourt. "I can imagine that."
"He seems to have been a dreamer originally," said Sarah. "He became dishonest only after he had a following."
Miriam smilingly quoted Goethe's saying: "Crucify every visionary in his thirtieth year. For, once he knows the world, the deceived will turn deceiver."
"But it is strange," said Friedrich, "how such adventurers are always able to win the people's confidence."
"There seems to be a profound reason for that," remarked David. "It was not that the people believed what they said, but rather that they said what the people believed. They soothed a yearning. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to say, they sprang from the yearning. That's it. The longing creates the Messiah.
"You must remember what dark days those were when a Sabbatai and his like appeared. Our people was not yet able to take account of its own situation, and therefore yielded to the spell of such persons. It was only at the end of the nineteenth century, when the other civilized nations had already attained to self-consciousness and given evidence thereof, that our own people-the pariah-realized that its salvation lay within itself, that nothing was to be expected from fantastic miracle-workers. They realized then that the way of deliverance must be paved not by a single individual, but by a conscious and alert folk-personality. The Orthodox, too, realized that there was nothing blasphemous in such a view. Gesta Dei per Franco the French used to say. 'God works through the Jews,' said our truly pious ones who did not permit intriguing rabbis to stir them up. God Himself, in His inscrutable wisdom, decides what instruments will serve His ends. Such was the sensible reasoning of our pious Jews when they threw themselves enthusiastically into the national enterprise of restoration. And so the Jewish nation once more raised itself to nationhood."
"Bravo!" roared Kingscourt.
Someone knocked at the door of the box. In response to David's summons, a gray-bearded man (he whom Friedrich had noticed at the embankment) sidled in with a servile smile. Schiffmann of the Cafe Birkenreis!
"I have ventured to come," he said, excusing himself to David, "because I recognized someone I used to know. I doubt whether Dr. Loewenberg still remembers me."
"Of course, Mr. Schiffmann," smiled Friedrich, extending his hand.
"Strange, as I live! So you did not die!"
"Apparently not!.. And did you recognize me at once?"
"Upon my honor, no. Someone came to my rescue. A lady you once knew very well. Can't you guess?" He smiled significantly.
Friedrich was terror-stricken. He guessed suddenly who it was, but dared not pronounce the name.
"Well, Dr. Loewenberg, can't you really guess? Have you forgotten all your old friends?"
"I know of no friends in this country, except these here," replied Friedrich a bit dryly, glancing around the box. "Her first name is Ernestine," smirked Schiffmann.
"What! Miss Loeffler!"
"No, Mrs. Weinberger. You must know about her marriage. You were at the betrothal party. Indeed, it was there I saw you last. You disappeared immediately afterwards."
"Yes, yes! I recall! And is Miss-Mrs. Weinberger living here?'"
"To be sure! There she is, in the seat next to mine. I shall point her out to you:' He leaned close to Friedrich, so that the others, who were looking down into the auditorium, could not hear him. "Entre nous.. she is not too well off. Her husband, that Weinberger, is a Schlemihl. He went bankrupt in Bruenn, began over again in Vienna as a commission merchant, and finally landed here. But he's the same Schlemihl as ever. They'd have a tough time of it if I didn't look after them. And you know how accustomed she was to silk gowns and opera boxes and balls. Nowadays, if I didn't send her theater tickets occasionally, she'd have to mope at home. Times change:'
Friedrich tried to shut off Schiffmann's flow of confidences. "I should be interested by all means to meet Madam Ernestine again. Where is she sitting?"
"Aisle seat, next to the last row. You can see her if you bend over the rail. I am going do now. When you see me in my seat. Her daughter is sitting next to me, and she is next to her daughter. ..It was a very great pleasure indeed to see you again. You are remaining with us, I hope. For some time at least?"
"I don't know. It depends upon circumstances, Mr. Schiffmann!" "Very good. If you want me, you need only send a telephone message. ...My respects, ladies and gentlemen."
He sidled out of the half-open door as he had come in.
"I don't care for that one at all," muttered Kingscourt to Friedrich. The latter shrugged.
The opening of the second act showed Sabbatai holding court in Egypt. There was a great feast, with singing and dancing. But Friedrich saw and heard very little of it all. He was absorbed in old dreams. There she sat, next to Schiffmann. At first he was under an odd illusion. Ernestine Loeffier had not changed in the least in twenty years. Was it possible? There were the same delicate young features, the same tender young form. But he realized his error after a moment. This young girl was not Ernestine, but Ernestine's daughter. Mrs. Weinberger was the fat, faded, gaudily dressed woman in the next seat. She was looking up to him, smiling an invitation, and nodded vigorously in response to his bow.
In that instant something crumbled to dust that had endured through twenty years. His first keen resentment had mellowed in the solitude of Kingscourt's island, and he had recalled her with a certain wistfulness. In the end, his love dissolved in a rosy twilight. But in his dreams he had always seen her in her youthful form. His sudden glimpse of the result of the natural process of aging was a shock. He felt a sense of shame, but also of relief. That he should have been heartsick over this woman! Was it possible!
He was awakened from his reverie by a gentle voice. "How did you like it?" Miriam was asking.
"Thank God it's over!" he replied absentmindedly.
"Did you think the second act as bad as all that?"
He was embarrassed. "No, Miss Miriam. I did not mean the second act. I was thinking of an old thing I had imagined to be still alive. But it is dead."
She gave him a surprised glance, but asked no more questions.
A gentleman entered the box, and was introduced to the newcomers as Dr. Werkin, secretary to the President. He was a slender man, with a short, brownish-gray beard. His keen eyes looked out from behind a pair of gleaming spectacles. He presented the President's compliments, with an invitation to Mr. Kingscourt and Dr. Loewenberg to visit him in his box.
Kingscourt was dumbfounded. "Us! What kind of a president is he? And what does he want of us poor desert pilgrims?"
"The President of our New Society," explained David, smiling. "The old gentleman with the white beard. In the first box."
They glanced in that direction. "Confound it!" cried Kingscourt. "I seem to remember meeting him. But where?"
"The oculist at Jerusalem," Friedrich reminded him.
"Eichenstamm," prompted David. "He is our President."
"And did he recognize us after all these years?" asked Kingscourt, still amazed.
"The gentlemen were recognized, by Dr. Eichenstamm' s daughter," said Dr. Werkin, "and she pointed them out to him,"
"May I come too, Dr. Werkin?" asked David.
"Certainly, Mr. Littwak. The President would like to hear how your campaign against Geyer is going."
Dr. Werkin led them to the aged president, who awaited them standing in an elegant little salon curtained off at the back of the box. He was leaning heavily upon a cane.
"What a reunion, gentlemen, eh?" The old man's voice quavered as he shook hands with each in turn.
"Yes, Devil take me, Mr. President, if I expected to find all this!"
"Let us be seated, gentlemen. I am not very robust any more, as you see," smiled Eichenstamm, sinking into the easy chair an attendant placed for him. "Yes, yes! Our people has come upon happier days. But, for me, those were the better days. You know the saying, 'Senectus ipsa morbus. ..' Well, we must take things as they come."
He pointed to the lady who stood beside him, wearing a simple black silk gown. "My daughter Sascha recognized you, and reminded me of that day at the Wailing Wall. Ah, that was a long time ago, my friends... Yes, yes, the erstwhile Wailing Wall."
"Erstwhile?" repeated Friedrich. "Is it gone? Has not even that last fragment remained?"
The President looked at him and shook his head. "You could not have been in Jerusalem if you speak like that," he said.
David modestly drew nearer. "No, Mr. President. These gentlemen have just arrived. They have seen very little."
The President placed his hand on the speaker's arm. "I am glad to see you, dear Littwak. You are always a joy to me-and especially now. You must be steadfast in your fight. You are right. Geyer is wrong. My last word to the Jews will be: The stranger must be made to feel at home in our midst. God keep you as you are, Littwak. ...You have seen little of our country, gentlemen, but you already know one of our best men. I am proud of Littwak hereas proud as if I had had some share in making him so able and so upright."
David flushed deeply. He cast down his eyes like a little boy, and stammered, "But-Mr. President!"
"You mustn't mind my praising you to your face, dear Littwak. I am an old man, with nothing to gain from your favor. ...You see, my friends from afar, I am the outgoing, he the incoming wave. ...Give me a glass of tea, Sascha!" The tea was served him Russian fashion.
When, in the course of the conversation, the newcomers mentioned that they had been absent for twenty years from the civilized world, Sascha asked, "But don't you regret the time you lost? You could have benefited so many people."
"No, madam, we're not sorry at all. We are two seasoned misanthropes. We want to do good to no one but ourselves. That's our program. Eh, Fritze?"
"You're jesting," returned Sascha. "You must be. Good deeds bring more happiness than anything else."
"Miss Sascha speaks from experience," said David. "She herself knows that kind of happiness very well, since she is at the head of the greatest eye clinic in the world. May I bring these gentlemen to your clinic, Doctor, when we come to Jerusalem? ...Large numbers of people, gentlemen, have had their eyesight saved or restored there. You can imagine what a benefaction that clinic is for the Orient. People come to it from allover Northern Africa and Asia. The blessings bestowed by our medical institutions have won us more friends in Palestine and the neighboring countries than all our industrial and technical progress."
Sascha parried the praise. "Mr. Littwak overestimates my slight accomplishments. I have done nothing new. But there's a very big man in this country-a bacteriologist named Steineck. You must see the Steineck Institute. You will find it awe-inspiring."
"Have you made any plans for seeing the country, gentlemen?" inquired the President.
"I am taking my guests to Tiberias first, Mr. President. We go up tomorrow to visit my parents."
"To celebrate the Passover, eh?" asked the old gentleman. "Remember me to your parents, Littwak. And you must bring your friends to call on me in Jerusalem. I shall count on it."
He shook hands with them once more, and they parted as the orchestra began the overture to the third act.
As they walked back through the empty foyer, Kingscourt remarked, "That president of yours seems to be a fine chap. A bit old and infirm though. Why did you choose him especially?"
"I can tell you that in a word, Mr. Kingscourt. Because he did not want to accept office."
"Oho! That's better still."
"Yes. We follow a principle laid down by the sages of Israel. 'Bestow honors upon him who seeks none!'"